Heraclides of Pontus and the Idomeneus Myth
Heraclides of Pontus, a versatile philosopher whose work still remains largely unexplored, wrote several pieces on Homer including “Solutions of the Homeric problems”, to which some of the extant fragments are attributed. One of these (F. 171 Wehrli = 99 Schütrumpf) concerns the Iliad and the Odyssey being discrepant in the number of the cities on Crete: the Catalogue of Ships refers to the island as ἑκατόμπολιν (Il. 2.649) while Odysseus in his ‘Cretan Lies’ states that people dwell ninety great cities on Crete (Od. 19.174). To explain this inconsistency, Heraclides tells a dramatic story about Idomeneus which he probably made up himself, being an eminent author of dialogues and even tragedies (provided that the relevant testimonies are reliable) with an interest in mythology. His version of Idomeneus’ homecoming was not supported by contemporary historians, and, although later picked up by some poets and scholars, did not end up as a part of the commonplace Idomeneus tradition as we know it today.
ancient literature, literary criticism, Homer studies, Heraclides of Pontus
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